14 Jul 2016
Part 1 – A Q&A with Partner of the Year North America – Absolunet
Guest: Charles Desjardins, EVP and Partner
Absolunet is inRiver’s North American Partner of the Year for the second-consecutive year. We recently interviewed Charles Desjardins, EVP and Partner to discuss the agency’s end-to-end approach and how it impacts successful eCommerce outcomes.
inRiver: Who is Absolunet?
Charles: We are a specialized agency that helps eCommerce clients create and execute digital strategy. With more than 100 talented people, we help US and Canada based companies exploit digital assets to accelerate revenue growth.
Our agency offers a 360-degree approach to retail customers by tackling the initiatives with an end-to-end outcome-based mindset by establishing a team for each client that includes a senior revenue strategists, technologists, designers and marketing specialists to enhance reach and ongoing revenue optimization.
inRiver: Absolunet is inRiver’s ‘North American Partner of the Year’ for two-years running. Is there a secret you can share?
Charles: Our focus on end-to-end execution helps to set us apart. We center everything we do on our client’s business outcomes, and we trace every activity to quantifiable advantage. At every step and every level we answer one simple question – are we advancing the objective or not?
We work closely with clients on every aspect of the project, and strive to understand their business plan and approach. Then, we develop business objectives that we can achieve together. Communication with our clients is important and we believe that is key in being named inRiver’s North American Partner of the Year.
inRiver: What do you consider a success for a client?
Charles: Many eCommerce clients struggle with creating, organizing and displaying enriching content. Scaling the number of products on display on a website while maintaining quality of information is difficult, yet important. From end to end, our team aligns its actions to the way our client keeps score.
Picture a basketball team passing the ball around the horn until they hit an open man for a dunk. The guy dunking it finishes the play, but it is a team play. The play only works when nobody drops the ball. Successful eCommerce efforts work the same way. It takes multiple role players from revenue strategist to designer to developer all working together in unison to help the team score.
For us, scoring means lower abandons, fewer customers clicking to the competition, higher conversions, increased traffic to maximize opportunity, lower cycle times for complex transactions, more reorders, more qualified buyers in-store and so forth.
inRiver: What makes the Absolunet approach unique from other agencies?
Charles: We focus on the strategies that each client proposes. They are very unique to each client and this is clear when you look at our case studies. The strategies that we use depend on the maturity of the client. The more mature, the more data focused we can be and personalize an engagement strategy. The less mature, the more we will focus on operational and product information aspects.
It’s also important that the client’s product offering in store matches online; this includes having the same products, and same number of products, but also making sure each product has quality information. Around 80% of customers search online before they make an in-store purchase. Customers expect the same experience online as in store and we know this is a huge component in making our approach successful.
inRiver: What types of clients do you serve?
Charles: Our portfolio falls into three primary categories: specialty retailers, specialty manufacturers and distributors that are based in North America. We started in Canada and then, through referrals from our clients and partners, we built a healthy US presence and opened a branch in Kansas City.
When new clients find us it can be like discovering an overnight success. In our early days, being rooted in Quebec meant our bilingual and bicultural mindset was an advantage in our local market. It is an asset for clients everywhere that are focused on international growth. Today, we accelerate revenue in more than 30 countries and optimize experiences in more than 25 languages.
inRiver: Before concluding your first blog, what are a few best practices you have learned over the years?
Charles: Technology keeps getting easier to deploy and configure, but there is a big difference between deploying technology and configuring productive solutions. The “C” in eCommerce is capitalized for a reason. Focusing on the “e” of eCommerce without clear correlation to business outcomes is a surefire way to waste money and diminish results.
This more strategic relationship dynamic is how we have been successful enabling inRiver for our clients. Product Information Managements (PIM) is often mistaken as a departmental level solution, but in reality it provides a central foundation to improve multiple commerce-based outcomes. PIM is a huge challenge for most companies, but it lacks visibility at the executive level. The inefficiencies can be hidden across multiple departments and processes, so one of our key responsibilities is to help executives understand why PIM is a strategic project that unlocks competitive advantage for the entire enterprise. They are often surprised by just how critical it is for both efficiency and revenue. Partnering with inRiver makes a lot of sense in conjunction with Magento because it solves operational issues. inRiver is a flexible, mid-market platform that is easy-to-use and helps us resolve these issues.
In Part 2 of this discussion, we take a deeper look at how inRiver PIM helps Absolunet accelerate better outcomes for their clients.